Herbally-inspired artisan and fellow etsian Tamara of Tamar’s Herbes has recently interviewed me for her charming blog as a featured seller. I thought I would share this interview for those who would like to know a bit more about what is “behind” Lilith (or who!) as Tamara’s questions are great. Don’t miss that last ‘random question’ for a fun bit tidbit or two! Thanks Tamara.
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF:
I am trained as a medical anthropologist and work full time in the public health sector. The intersections of disease, healing, and culture have always interested me, from historical, cross-cultural, and even philosophical perspectives. I’ve been studying herbal medicine for a number of years now, and when I first discovered herbology, it was a total “ah-ha!” moment — finally everything was coming together in a way that really resonated with my life. It’s my true passion! I am also a mother with a two and a half year old toddler, Maeve, and wife of Tony McNichol, who is an archaeologist and kindred spirit. I work a forty hour week and then spend between 15 and 20 hours more (at least!) toiling away at night in my basement workshop to create what is Lilith’s Apothecary, a vehicle for my herbal knowledge.
HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR CREATIVE NEEDS WITH THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?
Well, first of all, Lilith does fulfill many of my creative needs. In that sense, I am lucky. I would love to be able to devote more of my life to the Apothecary, but at the moment, my day job provides an income that we can’t really do without. The tough part is not finding moments to be creative, it’s finding a way to make THAT my full-time job. Finding a balance between a full-time job and a ‘hobby’ that really wants to be a full-time endeavor is not easy, actually. Lilith is always growing! But that’s a good thing.
IF YOU COULD MAKE ONE CHANGE IN THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
You mean, philisophically? I could answer this questions a hundred times over. I personally believe that a lot of the problems that we have as a species boils down to the fact that we’re just big apes at the end of the day. It sounds reductionist, but when you look at primate behavior, it makes more sense why we as humans do the things we do. That said, what we lack in biological superiority, we do have in the potential to be creative, wise, and cultured beings. I wish we could — as a species — tap into that aspect of ourselves more readily. Can’t there be more Ghandis? Capitalism needs to go, for one thing. It demands an underclass.
WHAT DO YOU WANT THE WORLD TO REMEMBER ABOUT YOU WHEN YOU’RE GONE?
I think we all think about this. At the end of the day, I want to feel as though I have impacted people in a positive way. I don’t think there is a legacy that is more important than being a loving, positive influence on those you love the most. I’ve been to memorial services of academics, for instance, who were mostly estranged from their own children because of the all-consuming nature of their work. The negative impact that had on those children is probably worse than the so-called legacy of their academic contributions.
HOW DO YOU DE-STRESS?
Yoga is a wonderful respite, but I haven’t practiced in a while. It’s really hard to make time for myself that isn’t “work” related, even in terms of Lilith. That said, Ikebana (the art of japanese flower arranging) has been a wonderful outlet for me. I study with an ikebana teacher of 30 years, Midori Tanimune, and she is an incredible influence on me. I have learned so much from her. I also make jewelry, and have a little site http://www.lilithsjewels1.etsy.com, and I do custom work for family and friends, which is a lot of fun.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ETSY STORE.
Etsy, for as ‘expensive’ as it ends up being between etsy fees and paypal fees, has been a wonderful thing for me. I have learned so much about my business since I opened Lilith’s Apothecary in 2007. My photos have evolved, my products have evolved, I’ve been able to reach a much wider audience, and I get a real sense of what my market is and a deeper confidence in my product and what I have to offer.
WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS MEDIUM/HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
In my studies of herbology, I learned how to make basic skin care preparations, including salves, ointments, syrups, linaments, tinctures, creams, and skin care products. I have always had sensitive skin, and I realized how superior my hand made products were compared to commercial versions. Family members started “ordering” products from me, and soon I was being commissioned to make things at christmastime as gifts. Once etsy came along, beginning to think about a real business began to take shape, and the etsy store has really forced me into a wonderful learning curve.
WHAT OTHER MEDIUMS DO YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH?
I love making bath & body things, but I also love herbal teas, which I offer in my shop, using my herbal knowledge, and I make jewelry, garden, love cooking & nutrition, and practicing ikebana. I hate to sound like a dork, but creating is really what I love to do most, whether it’s a dandelion and gruyere quiche or my latest ‘Boudoir Blossom Facial Cream’
IS THIS A HOBBY OR FULL TIME BUSINESS?
I wish this was a full time business! Maybe someday it will be. It is not really a hobby though, either, as I devote 15-20 hours a week to the development of Lilith, on top of my full time job and family responsibilities. Do I *make* money? No, not really, but I am optimistic! Lilith is young.
WHAT DO YOU FIND INSPIRES YOU FROM DAY TO DAY?
Other crafters’ stories of success can be very inspirational (though sometimes it makes me feel a bit defeatest too). At the end of the day, just knowing that I would not ever really want to live without Lilith keeps me going. It’s too much of a wonderful creative outlet for me, and I absolutey thrive from the feedback and interaction with customers. Such a positive experience.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOUR CRAFT?
I love the creative evolution ~ the continual refining of a product as well as trying out new formulas and products.
The shameless self promotion that I know i should be engaged in 24/7 to really push these products and get myself out there.
WHERE DO YOU EXPECT TO BE IN FIVE YEARS?
I have no idea. But let’s say that in ten years, I want Lilith to sustain me financially.
That’s my dream. I don’t know if it will happen but that’s my dream.
DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN STORE/WEBSITE?
I have a website that has been in development for a year now and a source of great frustration. Hopefully it will be together soon ~ that’s a different story. I don’t have a brick and mortar store and don’t forsee that happening for a long time, though maybe some day! I am starting to do some consignment and wholesale and it will be interesting to see where that takes me.
If you were having a dinner party and could invite three famous people, who would they be?
I would like to be really ‘clever’ with this question, but I think I’ll be self-indulgent and answer it as honestly as I can (of course it is somewhat impossible because there are so many people I’d love to sit down & share a glass of wine with). I am not sure if these famous people are supposed to be alive or if I can drag some back from the dead, but I’ll be doubly indulgent and go with the latter: Marcel Duchamp, Alistair Crowley, and Gertrude Stein. Now that would be an interesting party!